Sociological Model of Consumer Behavior

What is the Sociological Model of Consumer Behavior?

The Sociological model of consumer behavior is a framework that seeks to explain why people behave as they do, and comprises three interacting components: the psychological component – how we think about products; the structural component – our perception about their social role in society, and finally the political economy-the impact of economic resources on our decision to purchase or walk away.

Types of Social Group

Social groups can be classified into two groups: Primary and Secondary. The primary group includes family members, friends, and coworkers. The secondary Group consists of any members of the society, who can directly or indirectly influence the consumers.

Influence of Social groups on consumer behavior

According to the model, a consumer is a part of the society and he may be a member of many groups in a society. His buying behavior is influenced by these groups. It may be surprising to know that man has long existed under many types of social groups, classes, and castes. His responses change accordingly depending on these various forms of relationships. Marketers must recognize this factor of social influence on buying behavior. Social groups may influence consumers’ decision-making by controlling perceived needs, so it is important to know what alternatives are available in their area locally and globally.

Social learning theory

Social learning theory forms the basis of the sociological model of consumer behavior. The theory emphasizes that consumers will learn behaviors from experience, observing the responses of others and what they hear from their peer groups. The theory asserts that a pattern is learned but not understood thus creating a schema in learning. The learning pattern due to social influence will be different as per the following cases:

Socialization Experiences

It operates on an individual’s internal environment and affects their behavior. The external environment affects the personal, emotional as well as social factors influencing individuals to behave in a specific way.

Group Processes

These can range from eulogy and peer pressure to rebellion, obedience, and influence of individual’s parents/ family members on particular issues (e.g: smoking and drinking fit to wear/allowed, etc.)


Belonging and familiarity create a need for group membership. How we behave is relative, relative patterns of behavior or self-perception. These may reflect on our social relationships which can reverberate into one’s identity as well as group belonging.


Attitude is the result of actions, beliefs, and knowledge resulting in psychological well-being. Attitudes can sometimes be either positive or negative towards a particular product/service etc. The extent to which attitudes influence one’s purchase behavior depends upon two factors: i) Level of agreement on appropriate criteria and, ii) Attitude consistency.


In order to get a better understanding of the sociological model of consumer behavior, we must understand the social learning theory. According to the theory, people are more likely to adopt a new behavior when they observe others performing it. However, there are many factors that influence how consumers behave, and marketers must account for these in their marketing campaigns. For example, research has shown that gender is an important factor that influences consumer behavior. If you want to learn more about consumer behavior and its application in marketing campaigns, please check out our other blogs on this topic. Which social group do you belong to?